Your young child has not handled the separation and the ensuing divorce very well. Now that you and your ex are living in separate homes, your four-year-old daughter does not want to spend time at her father’s home. When it is time to get ready to spend the weekend with her father, she creates a little scene full of tears and a refusal to get ready to go.
In another situation, a father who has primary residential custody of his son, might be dealing with a 16-year-old who refuses to spend the weekend with his mother. He says that he has other plans and he flatly refuses to go.
Is either one of these parents required to essentially force their child to visit with their other parent? Let’s take a minute and explore these situations, because with any case involving children, divorce and child custody, there are not many hard and fast answers. However, it is important to note that a custody order has the force of law. The court decides custody agreements that are in the best interest of the child. The court likes to err on the side of the child getting as much time as possible with both parents once they have separated. It behooves the custodial parent to do whatever they can to make sure that the non-custodial parent can spend the visitation time allotted to them in the custody agreement. If your child is expressing a preference to not spend time with their other parent, you must figure out why, and do what you can to rectify the situation.
Opening the lines of communication
A good first step is to have a conversation with your child to find out why they do not want to spend time with their other parent. Maybe they do not like the fact that they must sleep on the sofa when they visit their other parent, or maybe they are not getting along with your ex’s new love interest; depending on the age of the child it could be nothing more than simple separation anxiety. But if it is an issue with the other parent, such as the other parent not trying to spend time with the child, or engage in fun, age-appropriate activities with the child, then you need to have a conversation with your co-parent. Both of you can have a conversation about what each of you can do to encourage the child to want to have more visits with their other parent.
Be mindful of the fact that the court and not your young child decides on the visitation schedule. Also, remember that there will be consequences for you if you do not comply with the parenting plan schedule for visitation. While you may not think that you are withholding or interfering with the other parent’s custody rights, but not enforcing your end of the custodial agreement, you are violating the court order. If the non-custodial parent wants to push the issue, there is a possibility that you could be held in contempt of court.
It’s a little different with teenagers, since you can’t necessarily force them to take any action they do not want to take, and thus the court may not hold you responsible for a 16-year-old’s refusal to visit his mother. In a situation such as this, you might try to find out why the teen does not want to show up for visitation time, and you might have a conversation with the child’s mother about possible changes that could be made in order to accommodate the young man’s objections.
Divorce can create so many challenges, and it can be difficult for kids to find their “new normal” if there is a high level of conflict between the parents. Sometimes family mediation or family counseling might be the best solution for resolving disagreements about child custody in Tennessee divorce. Your Franklin divorce attorney will be able to advise you given their years of experience helping other families resolve conflict after divorce.
Everyone knows that divorce can be hard on the kids. Sometimes all the chaos of divorce can make kids act out and not want to comply with parental guidance. If you are a parent going through a divorce who is dealing a child custody dispute and managing visitation schedules, you are welcome to discuss your options with a compassionate Franklin family law attorney from the Law Offices Adrian H. Altshuler & Associates, who has had years of experience dealing with these kinds of challenging cases. We always keep the best interest of your child in mind as we work towards the most favorable custody arrangement for everyone. You may contact us or call 615-977-9370 to schedule a consultation at our Franklin, Columbia or Brentwood office today.